Wellness Pearls

17 October 2017

What Kind of Bonehead am I?

And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.
—John Steinbeck

When you do something that is classified as boneheaded, be quick to acknowledge your humanness. Launching into mean-spirited self-talk lands us in the valley of suffering. This dark valley is a place where we may brutalize ourselves based on our inner critic and self-talk. I make many boneheaded mistakes. Just to give you a picture of what I am up against and experience as a human, here are a few examples:
• I lost my driver’s license while on vacation in Maine–I had to go through a wildly invasive security process with pat down to get home. Then, 3 weeks later….
• I lost my (newly issued) driver’s license somewhere between the airport curb and the security gate. I landed on the opposite coast unable to rent a car or attend any of the carefully planned college visits with my younger son.
• I have outright missed flights, went to wrong airports, arrived at airports at 8 AM for 8 PM flights, etc..
• I ignored my younger son’s complaints of abdominal pain until the drive to the ER was nearly unbearable for him. He was in the OR hours later with an emergency appendectomy.
• Teaching older son how to blow up a bike tire, I instructed him to pump until 120 PSI. The tire blew up in his face and we later learned it was 40 PSI. Son unharmed, tire bent and ruined.
• Despite complaints of a scratchy throat after eating shellfish, I nearly forced my older son to eat shrimp throughout his childhood. At a Japanese steakhouse, the chef threw shrimp into our mouths in the way they do, and one hit my son in the eye. Minutes later, the eye swells dramatically and temporarily disfigures him. Soon after having him allergy tested, I learn he has a class 4 allergy [0-4 scale] to shellfish requiring epi-pen intervention.

The remedy for feeling bad about making mistakes (even stupid ones) is radical acceptance and self-compassion. I have been paying attention to my self-talk and learning to go gently, self-correcting when I can. For example, I have a new policy of getting to airports 45 minutes earlier than usual so that I can be more generous and kind to myself and others, making it a priority to thank the TSA for their service. Remember, as Diane Von Furstenberg says, “you’re always with yourself, so you might as well enjoy the company.”

10 Responses

  1. Mary K

    What a wonderful post! Thanks, Eileen, for the always-important reminder to be gentle to ourselves and others. I was surprised to read your examples – because I know you are such a mindful, compassionate, caring, committed, concerned, warm, loving, responsible person. These examples just underscore that we are ALL human (even amazing wellness coaches!) and mistakes happen, but that we can “course correct” and move forward with a greater awareness.

    Thanks, as always, for your incredible candor and honesty. And for starting our day (5:32 am!) on such a positive note. I’ll strive for “good” today.

    1. Eileen O'Grady
      Eileen O'Grady

      Thank you Miriam, for listening all these years. Mercifully, we have teenagers to remind us of ur humanness and keep us humble. You know I am working on slaying that inner critic. Yes lets all strive for “good” today.

  2. Marna Regehr

    Eileen, I have heard you speak and appreciate your insight….and so appreciate this reminder not too be so hard on ourselves!

  3. I think what you are doing is fantastic!
    \Would love to talk with you about it. As I think you know, I became a Life Coach after selling my business in 2005. Much because of the workshops I did when I was in my early 30s, that experientially taught me that we can change any behavior (or at least react to it in a way that both serves and elevates us) whenever we choose. Not coaching now though.
    Hope to see you soon at some meeting or to talk.

    1. Eileen O'Grady
      Eileen O'Grady

      Great to hear from you Dave, after all of these years! I am surprised our paths have not crossed recently. I know you know how to keep it real. I think the idea that we have agency over our life and many aspects of our health is a idea whose time has come…. Thanks so much.

  4. Gale Adcock

    Radical acceptance and self-compassion–WOW. I love it. As usual I see myself in your writing. I am always enlightened and uplifted by your blogs; this is another keeper. Thank you, Eileen.

    1. Eileen O'Grady
      Eileen O'Grady

      Thank you to you, our national treasure Gale Adcock! You are doing hero’s work and hope you can stay in that political arena and still go gently on yourself! You are the very best!

  5. Aimee Weinstein

    We preach kindness to others but so often we forget to practice it with ourselves. Thank you for this lovely reminder. And I’ll be getting to the airport an extra 45 minutes early on Sunday…

    1. Eileen O'Grady
      Eileen O'Grady

      HI Aimee: I know we are always harshest on ourselves, at least that’s my experience and the evidence on our inner self talk is compelling .. how much power it has. Living with teenagers is helpful as they point out gaffes, mistakes and boneheaded moves pretty regularly. You guys with young kids, enjoy al that non judgey love! The early airport strategy is a game changer for me. If you at in town, I can pick you up at 7 and take you to book club. Smiles and Thanks for the feedback. Eileen

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